Joe Bloggs:An Unlikely Hussar Part 23 How the 1960 Rome Olympics inspired my athletics career.

Long Jump Inspired by 1960 Olympics, RomeI was recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning which had nearly killed me while on exercise in a Centurion tank which had a fault. I was back from hospital and in the regimental sports store which I was in charge of at the time. I had used some of my earnings from “Joe’s Café” to buy a television that I could watch while carrying out my duties in the sports store. While I was recuperating, this put me in a good position to watch the Rome Olympics from start to finish.

These Olympics made a big impression on me as regimental Physical Training Instructor. Two people stuck out for me and both of them were Americans: Wilma Rudolph, the 100m and 200m sprinter, but most of all, Rafer Johnson, who won the gold medal for the Decathlon. I followed his events closely and was very pleased that he won gold, beating his nearest rival, the Formosan, Yang Chuan-Kwang. Rafer Johnson really earned that medal by outstanding performances. I had never seen such a complete athlete before and he remains for me the greatest athlete I have ever seen. This is mainly because he achieved it on a cinder track, using a steel pole in pole vault and the straddle style in high jump instead of the modern “Fosbury Flop” style. He had no aerodyne discus or modern technology to craft special shoes, fibreglass poles and other equipment that helps today’s athletes reach ever better records. Watching him do this and listening to what the commentator said about him, inspired me to emulate him.

I read up all about him and his training methods and began to follow his pattern myself, on a daily basis. I decided also to play and take part in every sport available to me and from understanding that “speed is of the essence” in all sports, I decided to train to be fast. In football, I stopped being a goalkeeper and began playing right wing, and then centre forward. I extended my run up in cricket and became a fast bowler. I began playing on the right wing in hockey and as a centre in basketball, scoring many baskets on break-aways. I was able to dodge punches in boxing and cover the tennis courts a lot faster. My emphasis was first on speed and secondly on technique. It served me well in my sporting career.

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